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Poll: Which is your partner's native language?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 23:49
SITE STAFF
Apr 13, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which is your partner's native language?".

This poll was originally submitted by Christine Schmit

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Deschant
Local time: 07:49
Not that easy to answer Apr 13, 2007

I guess there are so many categories that it is difficult to formulate them all in a poll! In my case he's bilingual in German and French. However, we communicate in French (which I speak, but which is not one of my working languages), not in German (which is one of my working languages).

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Christine Schmit  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
German to French
+ ...
2 people - 2 languages Apr 13, 2007

I have a question for those who answered "one of my foreign languages": what language do you speak together?

My husband (Mexican) and I have a rather original method: he speaks Spanish, I speak French, almost always.
We didn't really plan that, it just happened that way. At the beginning, when we met, we spoke Spanish together, then he came to live with me in Geneva and he studied at university in French, so we thought it would be good to start speaking French together. We tried for some time, but he often automatically reverted to Spanish, whereas I sticked to French, so now, each of us just speaks his own language. Everybody thinks that this is very strange, but to us it feels completely natural.
I would be curious to know if other couples do the same.

Christine


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 08:49
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bilingual family Apr 13, 2007

I sometimes joke that this is what we are, in the sense that I speak English to my children and they speak Spanish to me (resistence is high).

As for my partner, no choice but to speak in Spanish in our case. And even if he were to (miraculously) become proficient in English, I doubt we´d change. Difficult to change the language of a relationship?


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 02:49
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oh. OK. That's what "partner" means. Apr 13, 2007

I was stumped by this poll, because I didn't know whether "partner" meant "spouse/significant other" or "person with whom I work." Judging from the previous responses, others had no problem interpreting the question as referring to "spouse/significant other."

My husband is Mexican (Coahuila), I am from the U.S. (Illinois), and we live and raised our kids in Puerto Rico. We usually speak Spanish together, but that varies according to who else is around.

Also, when I make a mistake in Spanish and he laughs at me (as opposed to a kind correction), I promptly switch to English for a while and make him do the work!

Our kids grew up thinking it was their right, if they had to be scolded in public, to be scolded in the language least understood by spectators.


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ok, but (at least in the case of men and women)... Apr 13, 2007

...do we speak the same language if and when we speak the same native tongue?

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Agua  Identity Verified
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
Three languages in my case... Apr 13, 2007

Hello,

Well, I put "Other", because my partner's native languages are one in which I work and the other which I will learn (although he insists that he is not able to teach it)...

Best,
Mar


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 02:49
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
My ***wife's*** native language is Spanish Apr 13, 2007

I particularly loathe this meaning of the word partner. It is always unclear what the true relationship is between the two people when I hear that word. In addition, I don't like being grouped in the same category as people who may be living together only temporarily with no legal or religious commitment. That is not to say, of course, that I'm personally against the people who choose to live in such a fashion; just that there should be a linguistic distinction between "partner" and "wife".

In any event, my wife's native language is Spanish. Though she speaks some English, there is no need for her to use it with me as I have been speaking Spanish since the age of twelve. We do, however, have our own pet words which may be in English or hispanicized.

My children are quite another matter. They speak mostly Spanish with just a few words in English. As the saying goes in Spanish: "En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo".


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:49
Portuguese to English
+ ...
The word "partner" Apr 14, 2007

Reed D. James wrote:

I particularly loathe this meaning of the word partner. It is always unclear what the true relationship is between the two people when I hear that word. In addition, I don't like being grouped in the same category as people who may be living together only temporarily with no legal or religious commitment. That is not to say, of course, that I'm personally against the people who choose to live in such a fashion; just that there should be a linguistic distinction between "partner" and "wife".



I thought most people probably knew this, but by using the word "partner" gay couples are also included.

Amy


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Maria Baquero  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
My husband doesn't speak Spanish Apr 14, 2007

I’ve tried to teach him without success. I think that he is not interested in learning it so I have thrown in the towel. We communicate in English.
I am from Ecuador and he is from the US (Okalahoma). The boring part is that when we go to Ecuador I have to be his interpreter (without payment) (ha ha)


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 07:49
Dutch to English
+ ...
Portuguese ... Apr 14, 2007

... although near-native in English.

Whilst living in South Africa - with no plans to ever return to Portugal (never say never) - he spoke English to the girls and I spoke (mostly) Afrikaans to them from school-going age, as they were in an Afrikaans school. I always spoke to him in English.

We moved to Portugal at the end of December 2001. I now speak English to the girls and he speaks Portuguese to them. They went directly to Portuguese schools and only speak Portuguese to him and each other.

I insist they all speak English to me, but sometimes it's like trying to fight a losing battle





[Edited at 2007-04-14 06:12]


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Yolande Haneder  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:49
German to French
+ ...
German Apr 14, 2007

I speak all the time a foreign language.

My husband doesn't know more than a couple of words in French and says he has no time to learn. I have to learn for both of us to express everything in German.


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Marion Schimmelpfennig  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:49
Member (2003)
English to German
Communicating in a language that is foreign to both partners Apr 14, 2007

Funny: Some people answered "one I don't speak (yet)".

???

How do they communicate?

Oh, ok - maybe the partner speaks their language, or maybe even still another language that is foreign to both.

That reminds me of a brillant and well-known German comedian, Hape Kerkeling. He is famous for setting people up.

Once he put a phone call to a well-known woman hosting a live TV show answering people's questions about their personal relationships. He said that he was having great difficulties in his marriage because his wife is extremely jealous. He wasn't even allowed to watch the news with an anchor WOMAN - he had to switch to news with an anchor MAN.

The TV woman asked him if he had ever tried to talk in earnest to his wife. He said no, it wasn't really possible, because his wife was Portuguese and didn't speak German. Asked if he spoke Portuguese, he said no.

You could see that the TV woman didn't really know how to help this guy and how she became increasingly nervous on how to handle this situation

It would be interesting to know if relationships between people who communicate in a language that is foreign to both is better...


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:49
Spanish to English
+ ...
Although currently unfettered by personal entanglements... Apr 14, 2007

Until last year I was in a 10-yr relationship with a native speaker of Castillian who had a first certificate level of English, but had only been once, briefly (2 months) to the UK. Although we often made the effort to speak English together so that she could practice, it was difficult for me to keep it up, as my native (Glasgow) delivery and cultural references, use of humour etc are (or can be) mainly unintelligle to even English or Scottish native speakers from other areas. The result was that I had to speak in "BBC" or "teacher-speak" for her to get my drift the first time, which is an effort on my part tantamount to work.
We remain good friends and still make the effort to practice when together, but there are some things that are just more comfortable for me to express in Spanish.
I imagine the the usual situation will be that whichever of the languages is spoken most fluently by either partner will become the dominant one in the household.
I usually end up speaking Spanish with most of my English native speaker friends, as long as their Spanish is fluent enough.
I currently share a house (platonically, but does that count as "partner"??) with a French friend, whose level of Spanish is not great, but better than his English, so we tend to speak Spanish more than anything else, since my spoken French is pretty rusty nowadays.
BTW I totally agree with TC Binder's question- men are from Mars...


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:49
German to English
+ ...
Mainly hers, sometimes mine Apr 14, 2007

Christine Schmit wrote:
I have a question for those who answered "one of my foreign languages": what language do you speak together?


As we live in Germany and have almost entirely German friends here, we almost always speak German.
But when we visit the UK or have monolingual English speakers visiting us, we both switch to English and usually keep to English even when the others are not around.
More or less the same process happens with two of our children.

An interesting variant is when we have family get-togethers that include monolingual German speakers and monolingual English speakers, so the bilingual members of the family have to play go-betweens.
Although these relatives sometimes manage to get on well together even without a common language - it was fun to see our 6 year old German-speaking grandson and our 10 year old English-speaking nephew playing together. A few days together are again planned for the summer, so we look forward to watching the development of shared language forms.


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